The folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir is very rich in culture. There is so much variety in a culture that we can divide it according to its influences. In this article, we will discuss the traditional dances in Jammu and Kasmir. The dance forms of Jammu are very much different from the dance forms of Kashmir.
Folk Dance of Jammu
Folk dances of Jammu are very influenced by Hindu culture because Hindus are more dominant in this region. Dances are very related to the folk dances of Northern India. The dance forms of the Jammu region are discussed below:
The most popular folk dance in Jammu, among other folk Dances of Jammu and Kashmir, is Dogri Dance which you can relate with Punjabi bhangra and Gidda. Dogri folk dance is the traditional dance for Dogra’s (People who speak Dogri Language.) This folk dance is performed on Dogri Songs and Pakh. Pakhs are the type of song sung in the Dogri language where a group of men and women sings in very high pitch, holding on hand near to the ear.
This dance can be performed solo and in groups wearing Dogri dress, the traditional dress of Jammu and Kashmir. The leading dancer sings as well, and others follow him. The instruments used are Dolki and Chimta.
This folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir is performed on every occasion, festival, marriage ceremony, and even for joy.
In the villages of the middle Himalayas, Kud Dance is performed at night under stars. Kud folk dance is performed by 30 to 40 persons around a bonfire on a chilled night. The atmosphere of the place is so astonishing that you can’t imagine it. The dance is a rhythmic dance done on the rhythmic music from various traditional instruments like flutes, drums, trumpets, etc., at the same time.
Kud folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir is mainly performed to thanksgiving their Kul Devta, Gramdevtas, i.e., village gods for their wellbeing, crops, cattle, etc. The dance of local peoples is fascinating, and one should watch this epic dance form. There is no age and gender restriction to practicing this dance form. Men wear churidar pajama with turban, and women wear Salwar Kameez.
The dancers of Kud folk dance are farmers and not professionally trained. So, many visitors visit during harvest season to participate in this dance to enjoy and connect with the local tradition.
Jagarna is a popular dance form in the Jammu region. It is a type of wedding dance. Only females are allowed to perform this dance at night when the groom left his house with Bharat to the bride’s house. Most men go with Bharat, and females do Jagarna. In most cases, men are not allowed to watch this dance.
The dance is performed mostly on Dolki with lyrics that got the main attention. The dancers are not professionally trained, and there are no particular steps of the dance. Anybody can dance and enjoy the moment. This folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir is very famous in Punjab and Jammu.
Crow dance is also known as Kauwa dance in the Jammu region. Skillful Dogra artists perform it. This folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir is almost extinct now and performed by only a few artists in cultural events. The government of Jammu and Kashmir was supporting this Dance form and made it a part of their events.
In current time this Crow dance is popularized by famous Dogra artist Sh. Romalo Ram Ji. Kauwa dance had its particular dress, Black coat, and Turban on Suthan kurta.
Heeran dance/ Deer dance is also the folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir. It mainly performed at the festival of Lohri, a very famous festival in northern India. It is performed by Dogra youth. Heeran, the traditional dance of Jammu and Kashmir, is now endangered and only remained in the villages of the Jammu region.
The performance of this dance is done at night, and the main attraction is the Heeran dressed man surrounded by a group of men with interesting costumes. The group goes one to other houses of the village and dance there. Then house owners give sweets and dry fruits to the group, then the Heeran and group leave the house to go to others. Men mainly perform this dance form.
Kinds of Jammu region perform Chajja Dance during Lohri festival. Heeran Dance is performed at night, whereas Chajja Dance started in the morning. Kids dance with Chajja, which is a Triangular shaped board that is beautifully decorated with colored papers.
Kids go door to door to perform this dance, and the kids are so excited for this, so they stated this after sunrise. They dance with Chajja and sings Lohri songs. People gave them sweets and money in happiness.
It is the dance of the Gujjar Tribe of Jammu and Kashmir. Gojri dance is performed only on occasions, especially in marriages. The dance is performed on Gojri songs, along with some traditional instruments.
Mostly men perform this dance form; it is performed by lifting the arms and rhythmic on foot wearing Gojri traditional costumes, Salwar kameez, and Gojri turban. This folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir is still prevalent in the native tribe.
Folk Dance of Kashmir
Muslims influence the folk dances of Kashmir as this region is Muslim dominant. The folk dances are influenced by the culture of Afganistan, Iran, and some from Turkish. There is also some influence of Hindus can be seen in some dance forms.
Rouf is the most popular folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir. This dance form is ancient when Kashmir is under Muslim rule. It is mainly performed in the spring season to enjoy the beautiful weather. Dance is also performed on auspicious occasions like Id-ul-Fital and Ramzan.
Rouf is also known as “Row” in Srinagar city. This folk dance is performed by a group of ladies, who form a human forming mainly two rows facing each other. Each row has 6 to 7 girls interlocking their hands behind each other. Then, they dance, moving forward and backward in a rhythmic way.
The songs in Rouf dance are in the form of Questions/Answers. Where one group sings a question and the other answers it while singing and dancing. Traditionally, no instruments are used in this dance. But when performed on stage, some instruments are used.
The Rouf is performed in colorful Pheran and Kasaba, which is the traditional dress of Kashmir. This dance form is also used in movies and serials to show the culture of Kashmir. The dance on the song “Bumbro Bumbro from the movie Mission Kashmir” is also inspired by this folk dance.
Dumhal, the folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir, is a type of devotional type of dance performed for the blessings of the almighty God. Wattal, the Muslim community of Kashmir, mainly performs this dance. Sufi saint Shah Sukar Saloni popularizes this dance for 1400 years. In historical times only men are allowed to perform this dance art.
Dumhal Dance is performed by trained religious artists, wearing a beautiful long dress with heavy jewelry. The conical cap on the head is the main attraction of the costume. This dance is only performed for some religious purposes. In historical times, people affected by natural calamities like drought, illness, infertility, etc., then called these dancers for God’s blessings.
In this dance, the leading dancer holds a banner, The Flag of Alam, with an important message, then he grounded it, and all the dancers dance around it. In Dhumal, dance Drums are used in a very intense manner. But due to a lack of interest from the younger generation, this dance form is also at the point of extinction like many other folk dances and traditions these days.
Bhand Jashan, the folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir, is also known as Bhand Pather, famous in the Kashmir division. This traditional dance is a classical theater of Kashmir. In this, well-trained participants are very good at acting, dancing, and music.
The central theme of this dance is to show social and political issues in a satirical way. It is performed in chowks, squares, and in theaters by 12-15 people. The play is based on historical stories that don’t have written scripts but transfer from one generation to another. Although the levels remain the same but theme and way of the present are different every time.
Muslims perform Bhand Pather, but the stories are based on Hindu deities, showing Kashmir’s rich culture from old times. During play which is a mixture of acting and dancing, is supported by background music.
But now, this dance form is minimal because it goes from one generation to another, and not all peoples can do it. These peoples are called Bhands. Due to lack of support by the government, the families who depend on this from generations are moving towards other things due to poverty.
Hafiz Nagma dance is supplemented by slow and soothing Sufiyana music, with an instrument called Sitar. This music heavily influenced by Iranian culture, and Mughals in Kashmir introduce the dance.
This folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir is mainly rooted in three districts of Kashmir, i.e., Srinagar, Anantnag, and Budgam. Only a few families are now performing this dance.
This dance is banned by Dogra Ruler in 1920 (references from historians) because, according to the ruler, this dance is influenced now and became sensual, which is not good for society.
Bacha Nagma, the folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir, has its roots in Afganistan and was introduced in Kashmir when the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir bans Hafiz Nagma. Now, it is one of the most popular folk dances of Jammu and Kashmir.
In this dance, a young boy dressed in female dress dances, and men sing Kashmiri and Sufi songs in a group. It is performed in marriages and social gatherings. The music played during this dance is very loud. This flock dance has the power to attract people, and this makes it a popular dance form. People also enjoy this and dance with the artist.